Ferrari has filed a patent application for in-wheel electric motors. While such technology isn’t knew, Ferrari in its patent claims to have a more simplified design.
The patent application was first spotted by CarBuzz and filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Apr. 21, and published on Nov. 2. In it, Ferrari explains that in-wheel motors free up interior space and also do away with the need for gearboxes to transfer power from centerline-mounted motors to the wheels.
However, Ferrari also notes that in-wheel motors can increase the number of parts needed in a wheel assembly, which adds cost and complexity. The automaker’s solution is to integrate motor and wheel components as much as possible.
As described in the application, Ferrari’s design is based around a brushless permanent magnet synchronous AC motor. This type of motor has a stator at its center, surrounded by a rotor that’s spun by magnetic forces. Ferrari proposes making the stator part of the wheel hub and attaching the rotor to the rim, which would then spin along with the rotor.
Ferrari in-wheel motor patent image
In addition to complexity, another potential issue with in-wheel motors is the added unsprung weight that comes from attaching a motor to the wheel assembly. This can affect ride quality and handling, but Ferrari claims in the application that “an appropriate suspension scheme” can mitigate any issues.
Several companies have experimented with in-wheel motors, including Lordstown Motors. The Lordstown Endurance pickup truck was briefly manufactured using in-wheel motors licensed from Slovenian firm Elaphe. However, Lordstown filed for bankruptcy after just a few trucks were made.
At CES 2023, McLaren and Elaphe also announced plans to marry the former’s racing tech with the latter’s in-wheel motors. Rumors of an electric McLaren supercar have been circulating for years, but the company’s CEO has said the tech for such a car won’t be ready until 2030.